Romance, intrigue, and plenty of action are woven into a rich and suspenseful narrative in this powerful YA fantasy. The mixed-race heroine Myra is a Flickerkin and can flicker (become invisible) at will. She hasn’t cultivated or revealed this ability, since Flickerkin are persecuted as potential criminals and spies. When invisible people become tricksters and then murderers, Myra’s Flickerkin heritage becomes a deadly secret, putting her relationship with the leader’s son—and her own life—in jeopardy. Loyalties shift and difficult choices are made before Myra understands who she wants to be.
About the Author
Mary G. Thompson was born and raised in Cottage Grove and Eugene, Oregon. She was a practicing attorney for more than seven years, including almost five years in the U.S. Navy. She is a librarian in Washington, D.C. Visit her at www.marygthompson.com.
Read an Excerpt
Having the Ability should have been fun. In another world, a child who could become invisible might play pranks on her parents, might sneak around with friends, might go ride the beasts in the dead of night. In another world, the Ability might have brought freedom and joy. But I was not born in another world, I was born in the Upland, where the Ability was used as a weapon of war. I didn’t know the Ability existed until the day I learned I had it, when I was five years old. I woke up from a nightmare and began to cry, and my father came into my room, but when he turned on the light, he couldn’t see me. In that way, he learned not only about me but also about my mother. She had sworn that she was an ordinary Leftie, that she had no blood of the Flicker Men, but she had lied. My mother cried in silence. My father pounded his fist on the table. “She has the Ability, Rhonda. You have the Ability!” my father yelled. My mother said nothing. “You lied to me. You entered the city. You had a child.” “I never wanted a child,” my mother said. Her voice was soft, and for the first time I could recall in my short life, it wavered. “You never thought to tell me why not? When I pushed for a family, you couldn’t tell me this might occur?” “I hoped it wouldn’t,” my mother said. “She’s only one-sixteenth Flicker.” “You lied!” my father raged. He turned his back to her, faced a window with the curtain closed. After this day, it would remain so. “Would you have loved me if I hadn’t?” My mother’s words hung in the air. She and my father didn’t know I was peeking around the corner of the hallway. I don’t think they remembered me at all. One thing I always knew was true was that my parents loved each other. Often their eyes would meet and they seemed to float upward, leaving me below. They spoke their own language, using only their eyeshis dark brown and hers pale gray-blue. “Rhonda . . .” The rage had left my father’s voice. He remained looking at the window. “What am I supposed to do now?” “I’m the same woman, Donray,” my mother said. “Myra is the same child.” “You know the Flicker Laws,” he said. “The penalty for a Flickerkin caught outside the Left Eye is Judgment by the Waters.” I didn’t know then what that meant. I thought the Waters judged us always, that in the scheme of life, they rewarded good children and punished bad ones. I didn’t understand that when citizens committed the worst of crimes, like murder or treason or being a Flickerkin outside the Eye, the Council would toss the criminals over the cliff’s edge, into the ocean, and the Waters would save them or let them drown. “I do not intend to be caught,” my mother said. “What of Myra?” my father asked. “How can a child control this?” “I will teach her,” my mother said. “Children who suppress the Ability may go their whole lives without flickering. We have caught it in time.” “You must go back to the Eye,” my father said. “You must take her and leave.” “No.” My father turned around. Tears were rolling down his face. I jumped back into the hallway. I had never seen anything like that before. “It is not safe here,” he said. “I am only one vote on the Council. Some Members will not care that you are my wife or that she is my daughter. They will throw you to the Waters.” “I will not leave you,” my mother said. “No.” I heard sobs from both of them. I didn’t see what they did, if they embraced or merely stared at each other, eyes meeting, floating in their own space. But I didn’t hear another word, and we did not leave. No one ever spoke of us leaving again. So they taught me in secret about the Flicker Men: that they were a race who were like humans but with differences, that they had come to the Upland many generations ago and lived in the Left Eye with my mother’s people, who were called Lefties, that there had been a war, and that the Flicker Men had left with a cycle of the oceans and never returned. And that these Flicker Men could become invisible and had left this Ability with many of their mixed-blood descendants, who were called Flickerkin. This was before I knew what it meant to be a Leftie, to have lighter skin than the Plats and curlier hair, to be shorter than Plat women and to have more curves. I didn’t know that Plat men and Leftie women did not marry, that my parents had bought the necessary papers with my father’s money. Back then, I thought I might like to be invisible. “Momma, how do I do it?” I asked. “You must never do it,” she said. She said it quietly, but with that look, with that tone that scared me more than someone else’s mother shouting. She held me by the shoulders and looked at me with cold, hard eyes. “If you cause yourself to flicker, the Ability will take control. You will be required to suppress it at every moment. I will help you to never flicker again. You must never try to flicker. Do you hear me, Myra?” She shook me. “Yes, Momma,” I said. “There are known Flickerkin in the Eye who have never flickered even once, and others like you, who accidentally flicker once but never again. If you do not trigger your Ability, you will be safe.” I didn’t understand what she meant to keep me safe from. I only knew that I must protect myself from her cold, quiet anger. “Yes, Momma,” I said again. “Good,” she said. She ran a hand through my hair and kissed my cheek. “You will not be like me.” My father was with me every night after that. We would read together and play games, following a Leftie practice designed to help children control nightmares. I suppose my mother knew that if she were the one to help me, she might scare me more. The nightmares stopped, and I didn’t flicker. We didn’t speak of that awful night, and after a while, it was almost as if it hadn’t happened. So it was that between the ages of five and sixteen, I lived like any other child of a Council Member. I can’t say that some didn’t see me as half Leftie or take long looks at me as I walked past. But after all the years of being normal, I no longer worried about flickering. I worried about ordinary things such as young men and friendships. And, of course, the annual athletic contest called the Games. In the summer of my sixteenth year, I wanted nothing more than to ride Hoof, my purebred wetbeast, and win the ride in front of all the citizens of the Upland.
From THE DECLARATION OF PEACE
By Order of the Council of the Upland, approved by the Deputy to the Waters, may they hear us: . . . while these Flickerkin remain atop the Left Eye, they shall live peacefully without any interference, but they shall not participate in the mining of prezine. It is further prohibited for any person, having knowledge of the Ability, to harbor, abet, or assist any Flickerkin found outside the Left Eye. Any violation of this section shall be punishable as the Waters judge.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review. Thanks to NetGalley and Clarion Books for the opportunity to read and review Flicker and Mist by Mary G. Thompson! Myra has the ability to become invisible or flicker as it's called in her world. The community is prejudice against and afraid of people that have the ability to flicker and are testing citizens to weed Flickerkin out. The test consists of wearing handcuffs while being shocked through the cuffs. Myra manages to pass the test because her parents have practiced with her, which was torturous. Her mother and father are both arrested, so Myra has to stay with the Deputy. Myra learns a lot about the people she cares about and the strength of their integrity. She also discovers a lot about herself. This fantasy story hits prejudice head on and shows the damage it can do to communities. I like Myra, Porti and Caster the most out of the characters because of their depth and integrity. 4 stars for this unique fantasy world!
Disclaimer: This ARC copy was sent to me by the publisher, Clarion Books, via NetGalley for an honest review. Having the Ability should have been fun, in another world, a child who could become invisible might play pranks on her parents, might sneak around with friends, might go ride the beasts in the dead of night. In another world, the Ability might have brought freedom and joy. But I was born in another world, I was born in the Upland, where the Ability was used as a weapon of war. - Myra, Flicker and Mist One night after waking from a terrible nightmare at the age of 5, unable to see herself or be seen by her family, Myra learns that she can Flicker. Years before her existence, Myra learns of a race called Flicker Men had come to the island of Upland and bred with the Lefties who reside in the Left Eye; which in turn created a sub-race called the Flickerkin. Once a war began and the Flicker Men fled, this new sub-race of the Flicker Men discovered that they had inherited the gift of being able to become invisible, or as they call it “flicker”. From then on Lefties (pale, short and curvaceous) and Flickerkin are put into the Left Eye to be “contained”, while the Plats (dark skinned, tall and thin) are to live in New Heart City as the dominant race. For a Leftie to enter New Heart City, they are subjected to taking a painful test to ensure that they do not have the Ability. Somehow, Myra’s mother was able to enter New Heart City even though she is Flickerkin. With the threat of being thrown to the Waters for judgment, Myra is forced to never flicker again. Now much older, Myra and her fellow residents of New Heart City discover a threat of Flickerkin among them. Myra must fight to keep her secret hidden, and fight to protect those around her. I was very VERY excited to be approved for this read via Netgalley (thanks Calrion Books), mostly because I have always had a dire yearning to possess the superpower of invisibility. *Sigh*…the thought of it makes my toes tingle with giddiness! ANYWAYS, this story is stuffed and gorged with tons of interesting elements to pull any reader in. Fantasy and romance, adventure and unruly segregation…it’s all here! I was so intrigued by the world that this author created, and I loved the positive and negative elements that made up the island of Upland. The history of the Flicker Men coming to the Island was touched on, but I would have enjoyed a better understanding of who these people were. I think some flashbacks or stories about the past would have been beneficial to the story, and would have given the race of Flickerkin more depth. The elements of Plats riding beasts in a competition against others was really interesting, and I would have LOVED to have read more and more about this. Thought the reader is given a few scenes where the plats and beasts are battling it out in a race, again…I need more background and history about the competition and the importance of it. See the rest of this review on my website - the link is below: https://jenacidebybibliophile.wordpress.com/2017/01/03/book-review-flicker-and-mist-by-mary-g-thompson/
Flicker and Mist is a fantasy novel with a racially charged atmosphere that will resonate with today's audience. In this world, an isolated island of a country is divided into two segregated races - the Plats and the Lefties, with the former dominating over the latter. Adding a fantastical element is the intermixing of a humanoid species called the Flickermen that supposedly mated with the Lefties to produce Flickerkin - people who can change state and visibility at will. Myra is a a biracial person born to a powerful Plat and a Leftie, but she is also a Flickerkin, a fact that puts her in danger as they are persecuted outside the Left Eye (which sounds very much like an internment/slave camp). Most of the book is devoted to Myra's internal struggle as being both Plat and Leftie but only being brought up as Plat. She rejects her Flickerkin heritage on multiple occasions because she had been brought up to hide away that part of herself. She has enjoyed a position of privilege, relatively speaking, and I would like to point out that this affects her decisions immensely. Because towards the end when war is nigh, she chooses to stay with the Plats to try for peace, and this can be seen as siding with the oppressor. And a lot of it arises from her desire to stay with her friends. For the part of the racial struggle between the two, I think it wasn't as simple as just Plat versus Leftie. It is mostly the distrust of the Flickerkin, a sort of witch hunt for them that drives the racial battle onward; but is not the the root cause of it. The world-building actually feels pretty incomplete and confusing at times, to me. The rising of the Waters are supposed to be like tides, I guess, only very slow? And there are TV and radio, but not really? It was not made clear how exactly the Plats won the battle that lead to the creation of the current society, when the Flickerkin are pretty powerful and the former didn't have the technical advancement of the current time. The book is interesting, sure, but not exactly novel in its concept. Moreover, the ending is pretty open-ended if this was a standalone, which makes me think it has future books where these issues will hopefully be discussed or clarified.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Flicker and Mist by Mary G. Thompson Publisher: Clarion Books Publication Date: January 3, 2017 Rating: 3 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): Romance, intrigue, and plenty of action are woven into a rich and suspenseful narrative in this powerful YA fantasy. The mixed-race heroine Myra is a Flickerkin and can flicker (become invisible) at will. She hasn’t cultivated or revealed this ability, since Flickerkin are persecuted as potential criminals and spies. When invisible people become tricksters and then murderers, Myra’s Flickerkin heritage becomes a deadly secret, putting her relationship with the leader’s son—and her own life—in jeopardy. Loyalties shift and difficult choices are made before Myra understands who she wants to be. What I Liked: Not bad, but not captivating. I expected this book to be much more than it was. At the same time, it wasn't terrible. In fact, it might have been an excellent story, had it not been painfully boring at times. You'll notice other reviews on Goodreads that complained of the monotony. I understand them. There were big things that I liked about this book, but the book was also extremely monotonous. Myra is half Plat, half Leftie. Plats are darker-skinned with dark eyes, Lefties are pale-skinned with light eyes. In this world, Lefties are discriminated against (the opposite of our modern world, in which colored people are discriminated against. But there is more - some Lefties are Flickerkins, descendants of Flicker Men that mixed with Lefties. Flickerkin can turn invisible (flicker). Myra's mother is Flickerkin, and Myra is too, but they've hidden their Ability for years. Flickerkin are not allowed in New Heart City, hence why they hide their Ability.. But when a rogue Flickerkin starts to play tricks and hurt people, all Lefties are tested and tortured in hopes of flushing out the Flickerkin. Not all Lefties are Flickerkin, but it doesn't matter to the Plat government. Myra must come to terms with the part of her that she has hidden all her life, because that part of her is what will save her. I love how the author takes on so many social issues in this fantasy novel. We have a case of racism and prejudice - but it's the opposite of what we know. The pale-skinned Lefties are discriminated against - they are seen as lesser, and Lefties and Plats don't mix. Lefties are laborers and miners, while Plats are typically the of the upper classes. And Flickerkin - they are also seen as bogeymen. This book takes on racism and fear of races of people - innocent people who are discriminated against because of the color of their skin, their Ability, and/or what one or two evil people of their race or Ability have done. Sound familiar? Although... it makes me wonder if the author is trying to make a statement about white people have suffered at the hands of colored people? I would love to know. Because... no. Don't do that. The author also takes on gender roles. Myra challenges gender roles every time she rides her waterbeast (think horse), every time she wears pants (Plats wear dresses). This story's world is definitely patriarchal (and probably purposefully so), so it was good to see Myra's (extreme) opinions and feelings on gender roles. It was also good to see that Caster, the love interest, was progressive-thinking. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)